Gynecomastia: Understanding the Causes and Health Consequences
Gynecomastia is a condition that affects men causing an enlargement in breast glandular tissue. According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (IJEM), at least 30% of men are affected in their lifetime. This condition can cause anxiety, mental discomfort, fear of breast cancer, and distress in men. This article explores the causes and health consequences of gynecomastia.
What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia, commonly known as “man boobs,” is a harmless condition that typically arises from an imbalance of hormones in the body. The condition occurs naturally in males at birth, during puberty, and old age. Enlargement of male breast glandular tissue can be graded from 1 to 4 depending on the degree and extent of skin elongation. Obesity can also cause gynecomastia, which is known as ‘pseudogynaecomastia.’ The condition occurs when fat accumulates behind or underneath the nipples, and the enlargement may continue despite the initiation of cholesterol-lowering programs. Other causes of gynecomastia include alcoholism, liver disease and its failure, kidney failure, thyroid dysfunction, hypogonadism, and tumors.
Gynecomastia and Mental Health
Gynecomastia can cause psychological distress and peer pressure. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Breast Care revealed that men with enlarged breasts reported feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, lethargy, and depression. Distress caused by gynecomastia highlights the importance of seeking treatment. Dr. Sitaram Prasad, a consultant in plastic, cosmetic, and reconstructive surgery, at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said surgical treatment almost always involves removing excess fat using one of the liposuction methods and removing the gland through a small incision.
Gynecomastia is a harmless condition that can cause emotional and psychological distress in some men. Although it can resolve on its own, seeking professional help can speed up the process and improve quality of life. Gynecomastia can occur naturally in males, but it is also associated with obesity, alcoholism, liver disease, kidney failure, thyroid dysfunction, hypogonadism, and tumors. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential, particularly considering the impact it can have on a person’s mental health.